I wrote yesterday about the New Republic’s self-pitying, 7,000 word retraction of a story that portrayed U.S. soldiers in Iraq as moral monsters. How graceful by comparison was National Review Online’s swift and brief retraction in an editor’s note (see below for link) of reporting from Lebanon by W. Thomas Smith, Jr. NR showed courage and grace (and common sense).

Captain’s Quarters compares the NR and TNR responses to their respective bloopers:

“Every publication eventually makes a big enough to warrant a retraction and an apology. Even here at CapQ, I’ve had to do it a few times, and believe me, it never feels good. One has to resist the urge to rationalize mistakes and spin enough to avoid admitting error. Just as with customer service, where I often described my management position as ‘professional apologizer’, editors have to bite the bullet and admit error to maintain organizational credibility.

Kathryn Jean Lopez did so here. Notice that she did not blame the critics for pointing out the error or assume that the criticism was motivated by some sort of conspiracy. She didn’t, in essence, blame the customer for a faulty product. She took quick action to investigate, found obvious shortcomings, and issued an apology and a detailed accounting of the problem.”